Review: Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge

Title: Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge
DCI Jonah Sheens Series Book Two
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


One crime. One witness. One question . . . Why didn’t he call the police?

When a vibrant young woman is murdered while on a video chat, a small-town detective wades into a circle of friends and lovers with dangerous secrets—in the new novel from the acclaimed author of the “enjoyably chilling”* She Lies in Wait.

*The New York Times Book Review

Aidan Poole logs on to his laptop late at night to Skype his girlfriend, Zoe. To his horror, he realizes that there is someone else in her flat. Aidan can only listen to the sounds of a violent struggle taking place in the bathroom—and then the sound of silence. He is desperate to find out if Zoe is okay. But then why is he so hesitant to call the police?

When Aidan’s cryptic messages finally reach them, Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team take the case—and discover the body. They soon find that no one has a bad word to say about Zoe, a big hearted young artist at the center of a curious web of waifs and strays, each relying on her for support, each hiding dark secrets and buried resentments. Has one of her so-called “friends” been driven to murder? Or does Aidan have the biggest secret of them all?


The second installment in the DCI Jonah Sheens series, Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge is a perplexing mystery that is fast-paced and engrossing.

DCI Jonah Sheens has an uneasy feeling about a unsettling anonymous phone call  from a man reporting the possible murder of his girlfriend Zoe Swardadine. What makes the message a little difficult to believe is the caller says he witnessed the crime over Skype.  Finally nudged by another report, Sheens and his team are soon on the scene of what appears to be a possible suicide. But a sharp pathologist quickly makes note of an almost unnoticeable piece of evidence that points to murder. Sheens, PC Juliette Hanson and DS Ben Lightman are soon working long hours to solve Zoe’s murder.

Sheens is quick to interview Zoe’s close circle of friends. Her former roommate Maeve Silver is cooperative but is she being completely truthful? Her friend Angeline Judd is clearly troubled and so upset that her information about Zoe is not overly useful. Co-worker and friend Victor Varos has a volatile temper but would he harm the woman he clearly has feelings for? Jonah senses something a little off with Zoe’s landlord and friend Felix Solomon but he appears to be truthful during their interview. Then there is Zoe’s on again/off again boyfriend Aidan Poole. He reported his girlfriend’s possible murder but Sheens is convinced Aidan is not being completely honest with him and his team. Is one of the people closest to Zoe responsible for her murder?

Carefully combing through CCTV backs up some of the witness statements but also exposes some surprising and puzzling information.  Tracking Zoe’s movements the day of her murder reveals a gap in time in which her whereabouts are unaccounted for. And who was waiting for Zoe outside her apartment the evening of her death? Equally unknown is the identity of the person that Zoe argued with a few hours before her death. Although Aidan appears to be telling the truth about the Skype call, Sheen and his team remain suspicious of him.

Watching from the Dark is a riveting mystery with a clever storyline. Sheens and the rest of the team are well-developed appealing characters who tenaciously investigate Zoe’s death. Zoe and her friends are three-dimensional characters who are deeply flawed but are any of them capable of murder? With a cunning, late in the story discovery, Gytha Lodge brings this compelling mystery to a twist-filled, stunning conclusion.  A brilliant addition to the DCI Jonah Sheens series that I absolutely loved and highly recommend to readers who enjoy British police procedurals.

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Filed under Contemporary, DCI Jonah Sheens Series, Gytha Lodge, Mystery, Random House, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

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